A new Veterans Unit is being set up, in support of which the Ministry of Defence will work with other government departments to make sure that the needs of the ex-service community are met.
Those who have served the Crown and their country have often made sacrifices to do so, as have members of their families. When they go back into civilian life, some may not make the adjustment easily. Through the Armed Forces Covenant, they should be able to get help if they need it.
Since June last year, the Veterans Gateway service has been in operation. This is the first point of contact for veterans who are seeking support. They can be contacted on www.veteransgateway.org.uk and many of the people working there are veterans themselves. Local support is also available through this website.
The Defence Secretary said on 26 April that there are five main areas on which the newly-formed Veterans Unit should focus. These affect a “small but significant” number of ex-service people.
Debt – this affects the greatest number of the people who contact the Veterans’ Gateway service.
Housing. The Armed Forces Covenant puts an obligation on local authorities to provide fair access to housing for veterans, but a small number of individuals require more support.
Social Isolation – comradeship is part and parcel of being in the services, so this can affect people when they leave.
Mental and physical wellbeing – there is particular emphasis on helping people who have physical or mental conditions arising from their time in the services.
Public perception – our veterans may not always be seen as people who have a great deal to offer as they return to civilian life.
Our army, navy and air force have undergone great changes and what the Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP describes as a “generational change” will be going on in the next decade, as those veterans who have served in wartime or who did National Service are joined by many more who have served professionally in recent operations.
This article first appeared in the Bucks Advertiser on 17th May 2018.